Riverbend Park Moonlight bike ride

Riverbend is a beautiful park with lots of recreation opportunities in the northern section of Palm Beach County. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, walking, and historical tours are enough to fill a day or two easily. I know I spend a lot of time biking there and enjoy the diverse trails, wildlife and natural scenery.

Like most county parks, it closed at sunset, but last night we enjoyed a special treat: a moonlight bike ride through the park sponsored by the Palm Beach County Parks and Rec dept. There were about 30 cyclists of varying ages and bicycles along for the ride.  We split into three groups and each group was led by a ranger.

Periodically the ranger, who was also a naturalist, would stop and talk about something unique to the area. At one point, he shined his light into the water to show us an alligator. That was the extent of the wildlife I saw.  I’m sure there was plenty I didn’t see.

Since it’s just a casual ride, it was fun to meet new people and share stories as we rode.  With a large group, we were spread out along the trail and all you’d see ahead is the blinking rear light of the cyclist in front of you.  That’s fine when the trail is straight, but when the trail turns or forks and you lose sight, it got challenging.

At one point I had fallen back to talk with someone. We rounded the corner and there weren’t any lights.  The lady in front of me didn’t see which way the group went either. So here were a few of us cyclists at junction  with 3 different ways to go and it’s dark. We headed straight for a few yards, but didn’t see anyone, so we went back to the trail junction. One gentleman read the map and we embarked on a trail that would lead toward the campfire. dsc_0590

Just a few minutes later we caught up with the group; they had only made a loop so by turning around, we just caught right back up. That was convenient!!

It was just a few more minutes of riding till we reached a spot with a campfire and smores. Now this is my kind of bike ride!!  It was a good chance to get off the bike, enjoy some smores and actually see the people I had been talking with on the ride.

As we headed back toward the entrance of the park, the moon was just peeking through the clouds. The trail led by a lake so it was a perfect photo op to catch the moon as it reflected off the lake.

A fun, easy ride, nice people, beautiful park, and smores, what’s not to like. The good news is this ride is held on a regular basis and the next one is scheduled for Dec.28th.

dsc_0308Even if you’ve visited Riverbend Park before, you should enjoy the Moonlight Bike Ride. Call ahead to reserve your spot; It’s only $5 and includes the smores. You can bring a bike or call ahead and rent one. If you bring your own, it is recommended to bring a headlight and taillight.

For more information on Riverbend park: http://www.pbcgov.com/parks/locations/riverbend.htm

For a calendar of events: http://pbcgov.mhsoftware.com/

p.s. I included some day time shots so you can see just how pretty it is. Every corner brings something new.

Jupiter Lighthouse Moonlight Tour

The rain was pouring like a waterfall on the windshield and lightning frequently opened the sky to the West. Climbing a lighthouse to watch the moonrise didn’t seem like the brightest of ideas.  Pun intended…. 

We all know that if we don’t like the weather just wait a few minutes. That was true again and the cloudy skies parted and the rain left just in time.  As we made our way toward the base of the lighthouse, we had a brief history tour of the grounds. The day time tour spends more time exploring the history of the grounds so keep that in mind.  Just to the right of the lighthouse has to be the biggest Banyan tree I’ve seen. It’s been here 100s of years longer than me and I can’t  help but wonder what stories it could tell.

Who planted it? What children played in it’s branches? What changes has it seen? I wish it could talk, I would love to hear the stories.

After some photo ops, it was time to climb to the top. There are over 100 steps up, almost every landing has a window to rest, take pictures, or just poke your head out and look down.

Reaching the top, we are met with a cool breeze and a panoramic 360 degree view. To the west the storm clouds still lingered and set the stage for an incredible sunset.

As dusk fell, the 1000 watt light came on and the lighthouse was active. Each lighthouse is identified by its own distinct sequence of flashes. I thought each one just shone the same bright light into the ocean so shipgoers wouldn’t run aground. It’s amazing what you learn when you take a tour.

You have to poke your head in and see the Fresnel lens. This particular lens is of the first order, denoting the highest quality. I believe the range in pitch dark, no obstructions was either 26 or 29 miles. Considering the actual size of the bulb, that’s impressive.

The massive light and lens assembly is so well balanced it’s turned by only a 1/3 horsepower motor. It’s almost silent in operation.

Looking to the east, we watched the spectacular moon rise over the water. The moon rise over the beach is great, but from the top of the lighthouse is incredible. Instead of seeing the moon’s small reflection off the water, you see a large reflection stretching for miles.  It’s another one of those experiences that makes you feel small.

The magnificent sunset to the west, the inspiring moon rise to the east, and the cool breeze combined to make it one of those moments that could’ve gone on forever. 

When you’re in the area take one of the light house tours, you’ll learn a lot of history about the area and enjoy some great views. For more info: www.jupiterlighthouse.org